Myanmar awards first licenses to foreign banks

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar awarded licenses Wednesday to the first foreign banks allowed to operate in the country in a half-century.

Lenders from Japan, China and Australia were among the nine banks to receive licenses in a reform implemented after Myanmar emerged from dictatorship.

Those to receive licenses included Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. Others were Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Mizuho Bank, Thailand's Bangkok Bank, Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank and Malaysia's Malayan Banking Bhd.

Each bank will be allowed to open one branch and cannot conduct retail banking. They can only lend to foreign investors in foreign currencies, not the local kyat, unless they partner with local bank, part of efforts to protect the fledgling domestic industry.

There were no U.S. or European lenders in the group announced by the Central Bank. Licenses went to banks among the 25 that already have representative offices in Myanmar, a group that includes no American or European lenders.

Myanmar nationalized banks in 1963 under military rule.